MEPS 444:175-194 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09444

Multi-element otolith fingerprints unravel sea−lagoon lifetime migrations of gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata

Lény Mercier1, David Mouillot1, Olivier Bruguier2, Laurent Vigliola3, Audrey M. Darnaude1,*

1ECOSYM, UMR 5119, Université Montpellier 2, Place Eugène Bataillon 34095, Montpellier Cedex 5, France
2Géosciences Montpellier, UMR 5243, Université Montpellier 2, Place Eugène Bataillon 34095, Montpellier Cedex 5, France
3IRD, UR 227 CoReUs, Centre IRD de Nouméa, BP A5, 98848 Nouméa, New Caledonia

ABSTRACT: Precise knowledge of lifetime migrations is vital in exploited fish species, since all essential habitats must be protected to maintain sustainable stock levels. The present study used multi-element otolith fingerprints of the gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata (L.) to discriminate its main juvenile and adult habitats in the Languedoc-Roussillon region (Gulf of Lions, northwest Mediterranean) and infer the lifetime migrations of 12 individuals from the area (11 from the present day and 1 from the Roman era). This allowed for the first time the identification of key habitats for the successful completion of the species’ life cycle in the Gulf of Lions, and the connectivity between them. Our results revealed that lagoon use by S. aurata is probably ancient (>2500 yr) and confirmed its current commonness. Yet, although most observed migration patterns were in accordance with the migratory behavior previously described for the species, strong inter-individual variations and new patterns in habitat use were detected. At the juvenile stage, a preference for shallow lagoons with low salinities was evidenced. Nevertheless, the first year of life can also be successfully completed in marine conditions. At the adult stage, lagoon use was shown to occur until at least age 4 yr, with periods of lagoon residency of up to 11 mo in a year, often including winter months. Because overwintering in the lagoons was previously thought to be impossible for S. aurata due to low temperatures, this finding has important implications for future stock management, especially since the species breeds in winter.


KEY WORDS: Otolith microchemistry · Trace elements · Random forest · Key habitats · Gulf of Lions


Full text in pdf format 
Cite this article as: Mercier L, Mouillot D, Bruguier O, Vigliola L, Darnaude AM (2012) Multi-element otolith fingerprints unravel sea−lagoon lifetime migrations of gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 444:175-194. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09444

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -